At least 20 firefighters are feared to have been killed after Iran’s oldest high-rise in southern Tehran collapsed on Thursday following a major fire in the building, state television and a news agency reported.
Plasco tower, the 17-story structure crumbled after fire engulfed the top floors of the building in downtown Tehran on Thursday morning as scores of firefighters battled the blaze.
An official was quoted as saying that between 50 to 100 people are believed to have been trapped under the rubble.
Reports earlier suggested that the 30 firefighters had been killed in the accident.
Earlier, authorities told IRNA just after the collapse that at least 38 people had been injured at the Plasco building, an iconic structure in central Tehran just north of the capital’s sprawling bazaar.
Firefighters battled the blaze for several hours before the collapse as police kept out shopkeepers and others wanting to rush back in to collect their valuables.
The building came down in a matter of seconds, shown live on state television, which had begun an interview with a journalist at the scene. A side of the building came down first, tumbling perilously close to a firefighter perched on a ladder and spraying water on the blaze.
A thick plume of brown smoke rose over the site. Onlookers wailed in grief.
he Plasco building was an iconic presence on the Tehran skyline.
The Plasco tower was built in the early 1960s. It was the tallest building in the city at the time of its construction.
Video: Plasco tower collapse after blaze
Firefighters incite in nation ‘admiration, sorrow’
Iran’s Hassan Rouhani’s message on Plasco event has said firefighters epic conduct during rescue operations garnered admiration and sorrow at the same time.
Mr. Rouhani’s message also offered condolences to the families of victims during Plasco building collapse after fire consumed parts of the building on Thursday morning; “firefighters had acted extraordinarily in an epic setting to save their fellow compatriots; their response to call of the duty incites national admiration as well as sorrow for their sad end; I express gratitude for all firefighting staff, paramedics, police and other military units acting on the site to handle the situation, and equally sympathize with the families of victims of the event in their grieving in the loss of their loved ones,” the statement said.
The message also called for collective action to pray for the soul of the victims on the night of the event to pay tribute to all those killed and missing.